Our site is using cookies to record anonymous visitor statistics and enhance your user experience. OK |  Find out more

Skip navigation

Halley Diary — June 2010

Well here is the June diary, a chance to write something about something?

It is now my chance! I’m Craig Douglas Brown, the electrician at Halley and I have the honour of writing the diary for June.

Due to the fact that Midwinter week falls in June this is one of the busiest and most important month of all! For those of us who live and work in Antarctica through the winter this week is like Christmas and a chance to take a break and celebrate the darkest month. Everyone is trying to finish making presents (or start them!) No names! With the presents comes a lot of tidying around the place especially in my workshop.

You get used to it being so dark down here but what you will never forget is the sky. How it changes colour from pink, purple, orange, red and black!!

Pink or Brown (Photo: Mike (doc) Ramage)
Pink or Brown (Photo: Mike (doc) Ramage)

So let us get to the heart of the month, Midwinter’s Week:

It started off on Friday the 18th. We had to clean the station from top to bottom and put up decorations all around the base. We don’t really get to celebrate Christmas down here because December is the busiest time of the summer field season — with 24-hour daylight and round the clock working. So for midwinter it’s time to relax and make the station feel like Christmas at home.

Then it was the pool competitions semi finals on Saturday, where I played Paddy. It was a great game, we were both neck and neck all the way through, but there could only be one winner. That was Paddy I’m afraid, 5–4 the final score. The other game was between Mark and Jack. Mark had it pretty much covered from the start but jack did put up a good fight. The score was 5–1 to Mark.

Also on Saturday night we had the photo competition prize draw. There were lots of amazing photos being taken, things like sunsets and shooting stars. Unfortunately there could only be one winner as voted by the station. It was Richard Sands with this beauty!

Mid Winter Photo Competition Winner (Photo: Richard Sands)
Mid Winter Photo Competition Winner (Photo: Richard Sands)

On Midwinter’s Eve it is Halley tradition to celebrate much as you do back home on Christmas Eve. We had a couple of cocktails — delicious apart from one which was made from chocolate. I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate even though chocolate bars are a favourite snack here, so to some people it’s like heaven! At the end of the evening we all headed to bed, looking forward to the day ahead.

Midwinter’s Day. Right then where do I start?

The day kicks off early. I don’t know whether people were excited or they were just trying to put the finishing touches to their present. Our Base Commander Paddy had to put up with Halley tradition and cook breakfast for us all. He did it in the style of a cafe, so we placed our orders and stuffed ourselves. I had two bacon sandwiches and chips, mmmm that’s good!

We then had to decorate the table for the Midwinter’s Meal (I mean feast). We put up loads of flags around the table and decorations on it. Just about had enough space for the cutlery!

The scene was set (Photo: Craig Brown)
The scene was set (Photo: Craig Brown)

The Midwinter feast which we have all been looking forward to was created by Ant, our chef, and he pulled out all the stops!!

Halley V Midwinter Meal — 21st June 2010

Canapés

Chilled glass of Champagne
Carpaccio of Beef with a Brunoise of Root Vegetables
Brinjal Marinated Tiger Prawn Nicoise
Porcini & Whisky Mushroom Tarts

Amuse Bouche

Sweetcorn Veloute with Chorizo Cappuccino & Tomato Crisp
Prestige Larder
Beetroot Lobster Ravioli with a Light Lobster Bisque & Micro Shoots
Grilled Jacopever & Smoked Monkfish Saltimbocca with Braised Pepper & Saffron Cream Broth
Pan Fried Rack of Lamb with Honey Roasted Butternut Squash Terrine, Curried Parsnip Puree
Celebration of South Africa
Seared Medallions of Springbok, Ostrich & Crocodile with Charred leeks, Asparagus & Dried Cherry Tomato Salad, Roodeberg jus

Something for the Palate

Galia Sorbet
Pudding Parlour
A Taste of Pineapple
Candied Pineapple Soufflé with Scented Jelly, Pulled Sugar Pineapple Flower & Yoghurt Granola
Fizzy Truffle Torte with Raspberry Powder Accompanied with a Delicate Strawberry Milk Ice Cream & Pistachio Tuille
Pick Me Up
Vanilla Limóncello
Selection of Halley’s Finest English & French cheeses with Fig Chutney, Sherry Jelly & Tomato Bread Sticks

Candy & Truffles

Cinder Toffee, Marshmallows, Praline & Chocolate Ganache Truffles
Filtered Ground Black Beans & Biscottis

The meal went down a treat and everyone loved it. We were already stuffed but then came the homemade sweets and goodies that Ant had been busy preparing for us. Mmmmmmmmmmm yum yum.

Ant in action mode! Preparing us the grub! (Photo: Craig Brown)
Ant in action mode! Preparing us the grub! (Photo: Craig Brown)

We then had the annual present giving. At the start of the winter everyone picks a name out of a hat, and then begin to design and build a gift for that person. All the presents were exceptional; everyone had put a lot of effort into making theirs.

Lots of hard work and amazing presents (Photo: Craig Brown)
Lots of hard work and amazing presents (Photo: Craig Brown)

After dinner we had the Midwinter’s broadcast on the BBC World Service. We get the chance to choose a song to be played. We decided on the Red Dwarf’s theme tune for some reason? It was greatly appreciated by all, while we listened to our families and loved ones wishing us a Happy Midwinter (thanks to everyone involved in that).

It was back to the lounge to finish off the day with a viewing of “The Thing”. This is a horror movie set in Antarctica. It has been a long standing tradition in all British Antarctic research stations to watch it, and then try and get some sleep, not knowing what is out there?… well that is what I thought. That is Midwinter day over for another year. It was an amazing day that I will never forget and I’m sure everyone else who has wintered will agree.

Because we were due to have more bad weather over the weekend, we decided to move our outdoor pursuits forward. The biathlon was a hotly fought event. We had to ski or run around a course setup by Ed. If you ran you had a 30 sec handicap and had to pull a sledge around with you. You also had to throw juggling balls and knock over bottles otherwise you got time penalty. That was hard. I thought with all the exercise that I had been doing for the “Race across Antarctica” I would be fitter but I was wrong!

The race was still won by me. Well that was our midwinter’s week and I had an amazing time that I will never forget and I’m sure everyone else did too.

Anyone for outdoor seating! −35 is not that cold! (Photo: Ant Dubber)
Anyone for outdoor seating! −35 is not that cold! (Photo: Ant Dubber)

Also Congratulations to “Broke Back Brunt Boys” for winning the Race across Antarctica in the 12,000km section. We managed to wrap it up on the Sunday of the midwinter’s week and doing 500+km on the last day. Fantastic effort lads, well done! The race started in May and we had to race across Antarctica and back again it’s a long way and a lot of dedication was required. I must admit that I came out a lot fitter and healthier.

There is one other thing I need to mention which is going on at the moment. This of course is the World Cup. We were able to get in the Sun newspaper. We sent a picture to them supporting England for a special feature they were doing, hoping to get in and we did! It’s a shame really though. We thought we would get onto page three with all the hard work we have done in the gym but they demoted us to page 27. Oh well come on England!

I thought I would leave you with a picture of Richard (Met Guy) trying to drill a hole level. Rich has been extremely busy this month as he looks after all the Met and long term science monitoring on his own, as well as taking part in all activities.

Precision Engineering (Photo: Craig Brown)
Precision Engineering (Photo: Craig Brown)

Any way that’s all folks

I would just like to say congratulations to my sister for getting married to Adrian on June the 4th. Congratulations! Missing you all family and friends at home!!

Zelec signing out!